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Life on the road: converted budget van as free camping home

At 25 years old, Robin Raindropcatcher had never owned a car and didn’t have a driver’s license, but he dreamed of turning a van into a mobile shelter. When he lost his job and his “dream flat” in Vienna began to weigh on him, he moved in with his mother, passed his driver’s test and began converting a minivan into a new home.

Spending only about 700 euros, Robin used chipboard to create lightweight furniture and foam and reflective foil for insulation. His roughly 50-square-foot shelter now offers: a “living room/bedroom” (a convertible couch becomes a 2 meter long bed), storage cabinets that double as a dining/tea table, a lean kitchen (a propane camping stove) and an even leaner loo (a plastic water bottle for the “small stuff”; trips to cafes for the “big stuff”).

With his new home on his back, Robin headed south from Vienna for Italy, France and Spain and points beyond (he video blogs about his travels). Boondocking in big cities hasn’t always been easy, but he’s been surprised at how no one seems to notice his converted shelter, even with the doors wide open (particularly during tea time).